State v. Williams

Decision Date30 November 1938
Docket Number14779.
Citation199 S.E. 906,189 S.C. 19
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from General Sessions Circuit Court of Spartanburg County; G B. Greene, Judge.

Bloomer Williams was convicted of manslaughter, and he appeals.


Charles M. Pace, Nicholls & Russell, and Wm. Alton Crow, all of Spartanburg, for appellant.

S. R Watt, Sol., of Spartanburg, for the State.


On October 4, 1937, James McMillan was shot and killed on a public road in the County of Spartanburg. For this crime Bloomer Williams, Jerry Babb and Andy Babb were indicted. There was a verdict of manslaughter as to all of them, and their punishment was fixed at twenty years confinement in the state penitentiary. The defendant, Bloomer Williams, appeals from this judgment upon several specifications of error. He complains that there was no evidence to support a verdict as to him, and that the Court erred in overruling his motion for a directed verdict. It is urged on his behalf that there is a lack of evidence showing any intent or motive, and that there is nothing in the record which in any way implicates the appellant in the murder of James McMillan, and further that the State failed to make out a case of conspiracy on the part of the defendants to take the life of the deceased.

The testimony for the State discloses:

James McMillan was a negro tenant of W. R. Moseley, and lived and worked upon the farm of the latter in Spartanburg County. On the day of his death he was riding on a wagon with Mr Moseley, hauling a load of cotton to the gin of Mr. J. H. Mills for the purpose of having the cotton ginned. They were taking the most direct route to the gin, and their road led by the home of the appellant, Bloomer Williams. The wagon was drawn by a pair of mules. Moseley was driving, and McMillan was sitting atop the cotton with him, but somewhat to his right, and one or two feet behind him. Bad blood existed between Moseley and the appellant, growing out of the alleged killing of appellant's dog by Moseley. Ill feeling likewise existed between McMillan, the deceased, and Jerry Babb. It appears that the day before, Babb had beaten the negro.

As the wagon passed the home of the appellant, Moseley saw him in his yard and spoke to him, but received no response. The wagon proceeded up the road toward the gin, and at a point two or three hundred yards beyond appellant's home, turned into a narrower road. After Moseley had driven about a half mile on this road he and McMillan were overtaken by an automobile driven by Williams, who was accompanied by Jerry Babb, Andy Babb, and another man, named Sitton. This car passed them and stopped in a hollow of the road, just beyond them, practically blocking all passage. As Moseley and the deceased approached this spot on the wagon of cotton, Williams, with a pistol in his hand, jumped from the car, followed by the others. Moseley managed to drive his wagon to the left of the car in passing, taking the side ditch, and as he did so, Williams ordered him to stop, stating, "You ------ of a ------, I am going to kill you for killing my dog." Moseley denied killing the dog, and this accusation and this denial were repeated two or three times. When the wagon had proceeded on for several feet, Williams stated, "You did, and we are going to whip hell out of you."

As the wagon continued on its way, Williams, flourishing his pistol, jumped on the brake beam of the wagon. Moseley thereupon reached into the cotton and secured a pistol which he had obtained from the deceased before they left home, and told the appellant that if he climbed upon the wagon he would shoot him. The appellant then jumped from the wagon, picked up a rock with his left hand, and ran behind the wagon, frightening the mules, and raised his gun as though to shoot. By this time the mules were on the run, ascending the hill and nearing its crest. In the meanwhile, Andy Babb and Jerry Babb were following behind Williams, crying out, "Kill him;" "Kill him." And Jerry Babb said to Williams, "If you haven't the guts to shoot, give it (the pistol) to me, and I will kill the ------ of a ------." As Williams and the Babbs pursued the wagon on foot, they continued to order Moseley: "Stop!" "Stop!" And Jerry Babb said, "We are going to kill you. Stop!" The appellant gave Jerry Babb the pistol, who then ran on up about twenty feet, and shot one time, after which he ran forward another twenty feet, and shot again. He then ran up once more, and shot the third time. The second shot killed James McMillan, who was still on top of the wagon, and who, according to the testimony for the State, had done nothing and had said nothing. The two Babbs, Andy and Jerry, and the appellant, Williams, pursued the wagon, with the mules running and with Moseley striving to escape them, for a distance of 60 to 75 yards, to the top of the hill.

Later, when the sheriff of Spartanburg County, investigating the homicide, questioned these men at their respective homes, concerning the affair, each denied being present, denied any participation therein, and asserted that they knew nothing about it. The Babbs are brothers. Andy Babb was a tenant of Williams, and all of the parties were near neighbors.

For the defense it is claimed that Jerry Babb was not shooting at Moseley, but was shooting at McMillan, who it is said drew a pistol on Jerry Babb and threatened to kill him at the time when Williams first accosted Moseley in the road, and that the appellant gave Babb the pistol to defend his life. On trial all of the defendants admitted that the road was blocked by the automobile, and that despite this Moseley succeeded in keeping his team in motion. Williams testified that he intended to whip Moseley, but did not intend to kill him.

Under these facts and circumstances, it is urged on behalf of Williams that he could not be held for the murder of McMillan by...

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3 cases
  • State v. Fennell
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • March 27, 2000
    ...when defendant attacks a pregnant woman with malice and in the process kills the fetus, an unintended victim); State v. Williams, 189 S.C. 19, 24, 199 S.E. 906, 908 (1938) (affirming murder conviction where defendant shot at intended victim who was driving a wagon of cotton, but missed him ......
  • State v. Fair
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • December 6, 1946
    ... ... was of no consequence which particular one was at the ... steering wheel." ...           A ... statement of the same general principles will be found in ... State v. Newman et al., S.C., 80 S.E. 482; State ... v. Williams, 189 S.C. 19, 199 S.E. 906; and numerous ... other decisions by this Court. Indeed, appellant's ... counsel apparently concedes the soundness of the legal ... principles heretofore stated. His contention is that if the ... jury concluded that appellant agreed to engage in the ... unlawful ... ...
  • State v. Ciesiellski
    • United States
    • South Carolina Supreme Court
    • November 11, 1948
    ... ... for the killing.' State v. Cannon, 49 S.C. 550, ... 27 S.E. 526, 530. The test is whether the homicide was ... committed in furtherance of the plan and was a probable ... result of its execution. As stated in State v ... Williams, 189 S.C. 19, 199 S.E. 906, 908: 'There can ... be no doubt of the general rule of law that a person engaged ... in the commission of an unlawful act is legally responsible ... for all the consequences which naturally or necessarily flow ... from it, and that if he combines and confederates ... ...

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